St. Louis Record

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Motion for $21.5 million settlement against Monsanto approved

By Charmaine Little | Jun 5, 2018

ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig has approved a motion for final approval of a $21.5 million action settlement between several plaintiffs and Monsanto Co.

The district court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a nationwide class action settlement against Monsanto Co. on May 25. Still, the key question was whether the class would receive attorney’s fees as the defendant didn’t challenge the class settlement approval, but rather the attorney’s fees requested. 

Considering this, the district court granted the class the settlement agreement as well as attorney’s fees at 28 percent of the settlement fund and notice and administration cost, expenses in relation to litigation and service awards along with a modified cy pres distribution.

Joshua Rawa was one of the leaders of the class action lawsuit against Monsanto over allegations that it was deceptive “by overstating on several of its Roundup Concentrate products’ labels, the number of gallons of spray solution the concentrates would make, in violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA),” according to the opinion. Those who bought the items requested damages via the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).

Monsanto agreed to all aspects of the class action except attorney’s fees. It stated the legal team should receive fees out of the common fund, and no more than the typical 25 percent. In this case, that would equal $5,375,000 in attorney’s fees, the order states.

Instead, the district court determined it was reasonable to award the plaintiffs with the following: service awards to class representatives of $10,000 to Elisabeth Martin and $5,000 each to Rawa and Robert Ravencamp, and $2,500 each to Amy Ward, Cynthia Davies, Christopher Abbott, Owen Olson, Jeannie Gilchrist, Zachary Sholar, Matthew Myers, John Beard and Michael Overstreet.

It also stated on top of attorney’s fees, which it found to be $6.02 million, the plaintiffs would also receive $630,944 for notice and administration costs, $97,614 for litigation costs, and $42,500 for service awards to the representative plaintiffs from the common fund.

The district court stated $3.9 million would stay in the common fund. Still, it stated 50 percent of these funds should be paid to the National Consumer Law Center and 50 percent to the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division as cy pres awards.

Considering this, the district court granted the plaintiff’s request for approval of the class action settlement, and granted in part the motion for attorney’s fees, costs, and service awards. It also determined the claims administrator should execute the settlement agreement.

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Organizations in this Story

Monsanto Company U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri